Sister Sledge – We Are Family (K50587) (1979)

NEWS IN BRIEF

FOLLOWING #1 RECORDS, SISTER SLEDGE NOW ACTING “LIKE THEIR SHIT DON’T STINK”                Neighbour Dismayed At Family’s New Attitude

(Philadelphia, PA) — They were fine when their first thirteen singles failed to reach the Billboard Top 40, but since twice ascending the top of the US R&B music charts with the songs “He’s The Greatest Dancer” and the title track to their third Lp We Are Family, a neighbour says sibling disco act Sister Sledge now walk around “like their shit don’t stink.”

“They’re all ‘Nile Rogers’ this and ‘Grammy nominations’ that,” spat 71-year old neighbour Lula Mae Bulkhead. “Flouncing around their newly redecorated art deco-style semi thinking they’re God’s gift, even that one who looks like an alpaca.”

“It makes we want to puke,” the crotchety septuagenarian spinster added. “And it’s only gotten worse since the Bucs [Pittsburgh Pirates] started using ‘We Are Family’ as a sort of theme song.”

“At least we can be sure those nice kids from Throbbing Gristle next door but one won’t turn into such twats,” Miss Bulkhead observed. “I mean, they’ll never have a hit record, will they?”

Published in: on November 19, 2012 at 9:17 am  Comments (6)  

Montana – I Love Music (1978) (SD 19215)

“[Vincent] Montana has become the Glenn Miller of the disco generation.” Bill Curry, Philadelphia Enquirer

That liner note’s meant to be a compliment to Montana’s arrangement skills and the chops of his Big Band Rhythm Sound, but proves a too accurate description of this vaguely cinematic Atlantic Records album seemingly designed for the pre-rock era. True, there are some pulsating Salsoul-style intros and a few exciting Hustle-inducing passages, but the latter half of the 9-minute “You Know How Good It Is”, for example, actually sounds more like Doc Severinsen’s NBC Orchestra, complete with walking bass. Disco works best when it’s modern and hedonistic, not gussied up in the finery of dance music from the Second World War. A bit of disappointment then, but I’ll listen some more, maybe it’s a right mood thing.

The sleeve was illustrated by Roger Huyssen, famous for his artwork on the first Boston Lp. Picked up today at the Hospice shop in Sandwich for £1.50; a fair enough price, especially from a store I’ve disdained previously for overcharging.

Published in: on November 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm  Comments (3)  

KC and the Sunshine Band – Part 3 (JSL12) (1976)

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Meeting of KC Parish Council held on October 1976 in TK Studios, Florida

Present: Harry “KC” Wayne Casey (Chairman); Richard Finch (Co-chair); Jerome Smith (Clerk); Oliver C. Brown; Robert Johnson; Fermin Goytisolo; Ken Faulk; Vinnie Tanno; Mike Lewis: Whit Sidener; Beverly Champion; Margaret Reynolds; Jeanette Williams.

In attendance: TK Records, members of the public

1.  Apologies for absences: were accepted from Cllrs George and Gwen McCrae.

2.  Declaration of interest by councillors: all present expressed interest in boogieing and booty shaking.

3.  Public adjournment: It was agreed to adjourn the meeting for public comment and questions. The wording of the first paragraph of minute 3 (“I Like To Do It”) in the unconfirmed minutes of the Part 3 meeting was subject to query by members of the public, specifically that the antecedent of the “it” that Chairman Finch would like to “do” with “you” is unclear and subject to misinterpretation. The public understood that the proposal was to “let’s go, you know, let’s party, let’s go get down.”  The Clerk confirmed that these words, or similar, were used in the discussion but that the “it” referred not only to getting down and partying, but implied sexual congress as well.

4.  Chairman’s announcements: The chair expressed that he “was crazy and would do anything to be near you” and further, that he is “a boogie man, that’s what [he is]”, that he is “your rubber ball”and that he is “here to do whatever [he] can”.

5.  Approve/objections minutes from last meeting: Councillors agreed to approve keeping it coming love but objected to the fact that the word “baby” was obviously not being used enough.

6.  Matters arising from minutes: Part 3‘s shortness. It lasts less than 29 minutes.

7.  Report from Community Warden: The warden said he is available “early morning, late afternoon or at midnight, aww, it’s never too soon.”

9.  Planning Committee: Having issued four albums in less than three years, the planning committee agreed to wait a further two years to release another (lackluster) Lp.

10.  Finance and Administration Committee: Part 3 contains two No. 1 singles and a No. 2 single on the Billboard Hot 100; the Lp itself went treble platinum in the US, despite stalling at the 13th position in the album charts.

11.  Reports from Outside Bodies:

  • Robert Christgau gave Part 3 a B+
  • Prince Asbo of Thrifty Vinyl said Part 3 was great, but that that was it as far as KC is concerned.
Published in: on October 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm  Comments (3)  

The Rolling Stones – “Miss You” b/w “Far Away Eyes” (12 EMI 2802) (1978)

MISS YOU

I’d been holding out for quite some time, sleeping by myself. I was missing my girlfriend–missing the sex, frankly–and thought there was a possibility we might get back together. So I’d resisted the lure of other women in the hope that our separation wouldn’t be permanent.

We’d broken up several times over the years. It was always my fault. I’m an incorrigible flirt and had taken it too far more than once. I understood why she felt insecure. But this time was different, this time I was the insecure one, constantly hanging by the phone, waiting and, as I said, not sleeping around. If only I could kiss her.

Now, even my lonely sleep was troubled. She was literally starring in my dreams. Lord, I miss her.

The telephone in my brownstone is in the hallway, on the third floor. One time it actually rang when I was loitering nearby, ever hopeful. But it was just some friends of mine trying to cheer me up.

“Hey, what’s the matter man?” they asked. “We’re gonna come around at twelve with some Puerto Rican girls that are just dyin’ to meet you.”

I had to admit I was tempted. Sensing weakness, my friends pressed their advantage: “We’re gonna bring a case of wine,” they promised, sweetening the deal. “Hey, let’s go mess and fool around, you know, like we used to.” But I passed.

Why is she waiting so long? Come on! Come on! I called out to no-one in particular.

Lately, I’ve taken to walking around in Central Park, sometimes singing right out loud in the gloaming. People look at me as if I’m mad. Maybe I am. They see me stumbling along, shuffling through the thoroughfare and ask, “What’s the matter with you Jim boy?” Sometimes I want to say to myself…Sometimes I say…you know what? You’re strong. You don’t miss her

But it’s not too long before I realise that I’m just lying to myself. It’s her and her alone. The way she’s been blotting out my mind or whatever, fooling on my time. I’ve become so inarticulate.

Lord, I miss her.

Editor: Some Girls was the second Lp I ever purchased at retail (Steve Martin’s Wild & Crazy Guy was the first). In 8th grade someone brought in the American 12″ of this which I thought was the coolest. I acquired that version sometime later, but couldn’t resist this UK pink vinyl picture sleeve product when it presented at a boot fair for cheap.

Published in: on August 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm  Comments (4)  

The Beach Boys – “Here Comes The Night” b/w “Baby Blue” (CRB 12-7204) (1979)

Housed in a cute Rene Magritte-aping sleeve, featuring one of Dennis Wilson’s touching final prehumous* recordings on the b-side, starting off with some promising vocoder and pressed on luminous blue vinyl, “Here Comes the Night” was, nonetheless, an inauspicious end to a decade that saw the Beach Boys plumb the very depths of competence. I’d never heard it before, so was happy to part with a pound at the Etchinghill bootfair last Saturday for the pleasure, but truth be told, this sounds more like a Stars On 45-style cover of the Beach Boys than a tune by the actual band. There’s a reason for this.

Drafted in when Brian proved un-up to the task of producing (despite a new CBS contract obliging him to do just that), once and future Boy Bruce Johnston sprinkled a lil’ disco fairy dust on a twelve year-old Wild Honey track in much the same way he’d done with the Chantays’ surf instrumental “Pipeline” two years previously. The original “Here Comes the Night” represents one of the closest things the band produced to an R&B track, hence, I suppose, its nomination for a dance update. Alas, despite a high energy content and fluid bass part, the song is tedium itself, the familiar thump/strings/sheen of disco provided by an array of session musicians. Now, session musicians had featured on some of the band’s best music, but never had they sounded so faceless. The single edit on the b-side features an interesting, burbling synthesiser and makes a little more sense as a song than the 11 minute version, where verses, choruses, backing “oooo’s” come in and out in the most disembodied, arbitrary fashion. And let us be honest, this is not on the funky end of the disco spectrum.

But the similar vintage Four Seasons had managed a few disco hits. The Bee Gees transformed themselves likewise, so why not the Beach Boys? Perhaps because the Four Seasons and Bee Gees were simple vehicles for pop songs, while Brian Wilson & co. were, despite a calculated banality, not so simple; a band identified with, and weighted down by, an ethos/myth that couldn’t accommodate disco glitz. And having capitulated to travelling an oldies route following the enormous popularity of the Endless Summer and Spirit of America compilations, booty shaking in the direction of the Hustle was confusing to say the least. Certainly, this awkwardness, this uneasiness is more than apparent on a contemporary TV appearance, all beardy and dad-dancing, promoting the single (and note Dennis relegated to a ride cymbal!). Trouble was, at least commercially, the disco backlash had already begun in earnest, especially among the classic rock supporters constituting 98.6% of the BBs’ fan base, and fairly sharpish, this late-in-the-day, smacks-of-desperation misfire was dropped from their live set list.

So, Last Gasp for Beach Boy Radio Relevance or once again proof that anything can Go Disco? Answer: Yes.

*as opposed to, uh, posthumous.

Published in: on May 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm  Comments (2)  

Donna Summer

Donna Summer. RIP.

Published in: on May 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday Night Fever (RSO 2658 123) (1977)

R.I.P. Robin Gibb

The ultimate charity shop album?

“The next time I see a clean copy of the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack album, I’m going to buy it,” I grandly announced to my youngest son last Sunday; he and I were watching Family Guy whose music is by Walter “Fifth of Beethoven” Murphy and I was inspired. Who would have guessed that only two days later my scheme would be seen to its completion apon alighting the cafe of the Lord Whiskey Cat Sanctuary? Well, it was probably a safe bet: the album sold something like 15 million copies in its first year of release, going on to total 40 million world-wide at present.

While I already have the relevant BGs music on the rather lovely 3Lp Greatest, I have never owned SNF. I say never, in fact I did possess a 3M reel-to-reel version, taped from my friend Tim Tharp back in the day. Along with the track listing, I remember denoting myself as “producer”. I had recorded it, you see.

As it happens, the Brothers Gibb outshine nearly everything else on this double Lp, with only The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” (all 11 mins. of it!) and “Open Sesame” by Kool & the Gang measuring up.  Though not produced or played by the band, session singer Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You” and “More Than a Woman” by Tavares both counts as a Bee Gees songs since they were written B., R. & M. Gibb.

That fact that I couldn’t even remember the other songs, despite playing the record a lot in 1978, goes some way to demonstrating their worth. “Boogie Shoes” falls short of KC & the Sunshine Band’s slight standards being a poppy 12-bar blues more akin to T-Rex. David Shire’s instrumental contributions pale in comparison to just about anything found here, let alone the toothsome stars of the SNF soundtrack. Their presence disrupts the album’s flow, even if they make the point that absolutely anything could “go disco”; this point is better made by the aforementioned Beethoven pastiche.

Alluded to earlier at club Thrifty Vinyl, we have a mixed result then–but at least Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck” didn’t make the final cut.

Published in: on May 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm  Comments (2)  

Madonna – The Immaculate Collection (1990)

No retail shopping for me on Record Store Day, just cheapo chazzing. In fact, I already had Immaculate Collection on CD*, but couldn’t resist this early singles double Lp helping of the pop martinet whose musical and visual image mongering takes David Bowie’s similar chameleonality to absurdly cynical lengths and whose glamorisation (leading ultimately, and ironically, to normalisation) of sexual fetishism has virtually defined all solo female pop singing subsequent.

The liner notes offer a remarkable balance of slavering and intellectual pretension. Oh, Madonna, you so bad!

More Herb Ritts action on the inner sleeves.

*I will likely Music Magpie the compact disc version.

Published in: on April 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

JKD Band – “Dragon Power – A Tribute to Bruce Lee” 12″ (1978)

Synthesiser-led Hi-NRG disco twaddle occasionally punctuated by shrieks and murmurs attributed to Bruce Lee, this is a “tribute” in only the most southpaw of ways to the man patronisingly labelled a “teenage punk, martial arts superstar, colossal egoist, Hollywood screen idol and philosopher extraordinary (sic)” in correspondingly ridiculous liner notes. I was expecting such silliness but naïvely hoped for better when I bought “Dragon Power” this morning from Bernardos in Hythe.

Published in: on March 30, 2012 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  

The Undisputed Truth – Smokin’ (WHK 3202) (1979)

Producers don’t usually get front cover credit, but such was Norman Whitfield’s command over urbanspacegroup The Undisputed Truth that he’s namechecked in centered, 36-pt. type for all to see on premier face of the final UT Lp sleeve. Not that it seems to have done them much good, the record didn’t even chart and the album’s only single (“Show Time”) struggled to #55 US R&B. As it happens, while many of the right funky moves are made and not that this is a total washout by any means, there is a let-down, second-tier silliness about Smokin’–I mean, talk of  their funk being “a brand new thing” and “Tazmanian monsters” and whatnot, not to mention guff about “there’s life on other planets”–that smacks of trying-to-hard-with-things-we-don’t-really-believe careerism.

So: more smoke than fire.

Another £1-still-in-its-original-plastic googah from this afternoon’s ransacking of the Lord Whiskey Cat Sanctuary Tea Rooms*.

*I did not make this place up.

Published in: on March 18, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)